Some thoughts on Panorama and Steelband Progress in T&T

OK, my friends, I would like to take a moment for clarification and to share my thoughts about panorama as it relates to Steelband progress.
I love panorama, have loved it from the beginning, and even participated as a player in the early years.
But over my lifetime, I’ve seen panorama change from one of the things we did at carnival, to just about the only thing we do at carnival.
I happen to think that as musicians, pan people should be able, if given the opportunity, to devise ways of exploiting the carnival, for fun and profit.
This does not necessarily mean, as some think, a return to pushing pans on the streets, as we did in the sixties, though some may choose to do so.
By exploiting the carnival , I mean a total effort ; including the learning of contemporary party tunes , and trying such ideas as all-inclusive Steelband parties on the road , setting up carnival theatres in panyards where , instead of one tune being practiced all night, fans may enjoy more of a party atmosphere, where food, band articles etc. could be sold.
I’m sure today’s pan people could come up with even more exciting and original ideas , given the time and encouragement to do so.
I should also mention that the colour and pageantry of carnival presents the best opportunity to display and promote the steelband to a worldwide audience.
But the promise of panorama rewards are too tempting, and the focus needed too great, to allow most steel bands the opportunity, in a relatively short carnival season, to plan for additional activities at carnival.
The other day I raised the issue of funding to raise the main point.
Whether we realize it or not, panorama payments could be considered the government’s subsidy to the art-form.
Panorama is used as a means of distributing funds among the steel bands.

Phase II Pan Groove placed fourth with “Do Something For Pan” in the Panorama Finals of 2011. While the lyrics of the tune made some  valid points , too much of an emphasis is placed on Pan Trinbago , its questionable leadership and the management of government funding , and too little on what we can all do as a culture and society, to promote and advance the art-form.
It is highly unlikely that these funds would increase, given the nation’s current financial situation, and steel bands should be looking for alternative sources for income.
I think carnival affords the best opportunity to generate those extra funds, though , like all capital endeavors, it will take work to come to fruition, and the results may take time, and success is not guaranteed in all cases.
However, we will still have panorama as the major showcase of Steelband talent, but later in the year, when we could have a well organized, well-promoted Steelband festival with a Panorama Finals as the climax.
And bands will have an incentive to remain active for most of the year, unlike today, when most bands hang it up, sometimes even before carnival, until the next panorama.
I firmly believe that Panorama has matured to where it can become a solo, stand-alone festival, with unlimited growth potential, without the restrains of time, locations, and even economic competition, created by the multiple activities held at carnival time.
And lastly , “cowards ” may be a strong term , but over the years, I’ve gotten very frustrated with those who profess love and respect for the art-form, yet insist that a well organized, well-promoted competition/festival featuring the best steel bands in the world , held away from the carnival would not be successful.
At a time of year when little is happening, in the land of the Steelband, where the art-form was created.
Sorry if any feelings are hurt, but to me, such thinking is defeatist and cowardly, by those unwilling to accept a challenge.
They would have to prove it to me.
Trinidad All Stars winning performance of “Curry Tabanca” at the International Panorama Competition held in Port of Spain , Trinidad in 2015

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s